Monday, November 26, 2018

This Week in Television History: November 2018 PART IV

The further we go back in Hollywood history,
the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
Donna Allen-Figueroa

November 26, 1938
Richard Caruthers “Rich” Little is born. 
The Canadian-American impressionist and voice actor, nicknamed “The Man of a Thousand Voices,” by voice actor Mel Blanc. Little was an usher at the Elgin Movie Theatre in Ottawa where he would perfect his voices while standing at the back of the theatre. He started his amateur acting career at Ottawa’s Little Theatre, winning his first acting award at the Eastern Ontario Drama Festival in Deep River, Ontario. He went on to become a successful disc jockey, frequently incorporating impersonations into his show. In 1963, he was asked to audition by Mel Tormé, who was producing a new variety show for Judy Garland. The audition won him the job and in 1964, Little made his American television debut on CBS‘s The Judy Garland Show, where he imitated various male celebrities, including James Mason in A Star Is Born.
In 1966 and 1967, Little appeared in ABC-TV‘s Judy Carne sitcom Love on a Rooftop as the Willises’ eccentric neighbor, Stan Parker. He appeared on That Girl in 1967 as a writer who impressed Marlo Thomas‘ character with his impersonations. He also made two memorable appearances as accident-prone Brother Paul Leonardi on The Flying Nun in 1968; it marked one his few appearances as a character actor rather than an impressionist.
Little was a frequent guest on variety and talk shows. With Johnny Carson he captured The Tonight Show host’s voice and many on-stage mannerisms (and later played Carson in the HBO TV-movie The Late Shift). One of his best known impressions is of U.S. President Richard Nixon (reprising in 1991 the role of Nixon as ideal sperm donor in Gina’s fantasies on the soap opera Santa Barbara.) During the 1970s, Little made many television appearances portraying Nixon. He was a regular guest on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts in the 1970s and was also a semi-regular on the Emmy-winning ABC-TV variety series The Julie Andrews Hourin 1972–1973. In response to his imitation of Jack Benny, the comedian sent Little an 18-carat gold money clip containing this message: “With Bob Hope doing my walk and you doing my voice, I can be a star and do nothing.” He was named “Comedy Star of the Year” by the American Guild of Variety Artists in 1974.
His best-known continuing TV series was The Kopycats, hour-long segments of The ABC Comedy Hour, first broadcast in 1972. Taped in England, these comedy-variety shows consisted entirely of celebrity impersonations, with the actors in full costume and makeup for every sketch. The cast included Little, Frank Gorshin,Marilyn MichaelsGeorge Kirby, British comedian Joe Baker, Fred TravalenaCharlie Callas and Peter Goodwright.
The Rich Little Show (1976) and The New You Asked for It (1981) were attempts to present Little in his own person, away from his gallery of characterizations. Little also appeared on a second season episode of The Muppet Show.
In 1981 Little appeared in a comedy LP called The First Family Rides Again, which was the fourth and final ‘First Family’ comedy LPs originally created by Bob Booker and Earle Doud. Little starred along with Melanie Chartoff, Micheal Richards, Shelly Black, Jenilee Harrison, Earle Doud, and Vaughn Meader, making light of U.S. President Ronald Reagan‘s years in the White House.
Little has starred in various HBO specials including the 1978 one-man show, Rich Little’s Christmas Carol. He has also appeared in several movies and released nine albums. When David Niven proved too ill for his voice to be used in his appearances in Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) and Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), Little provided the overdub. (Ironically, Little provided the voice for the Pink Panther in two experimental 1965 cartoons, Sink Pink and Pink Ice, in Niven’s voice). He rendered similar assistance for the 1991 TV special Christmas at the Movies by providing an uncredited dub for actor/dancer Gene Kelly who had lost his voice.  As a native Canadian, he also lent his voice to the narration of two specials which were the forerunners for the animated series The RaccoonsThe Christmas Raccoons and The Raccoons on Ice.
Little was the host for the 2007 White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Although President George W. Bush was reported to have enjoyed Little’s performance, it was panned by some reviewers for “his ancient jokes and impressions of dead people (Johnny Carson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan).”
Little voices as a guest star in Futurama such as Futurama: Bender’s Game, playing his own celebrity head: “This is Rich Little, impersonating Howard Cosell.” Many times he plays a sports commentator.

November 27, 1978
The White Shadow first aired
The White Shadow is an American drama television series starring Ken Howard that ran on the CBS network from November 27, 1978, to March 16, 1981, about a white former professional basketball player who takes a job coaching basketball at an impoverished urban high school with a racially mixed basketball team. Although the lead actor Howard was a blonde Caucasian, the series broke new ground as the first television ensemble drama to feature a mostly African American cast, with African American actors playing the high school principal and vice-principal, the majority of the teenage basketball players, and other supporting roles. The White Shadow also dealt with controversial subject matter such as sexually transmitted disease and gay sexual orientation among high school students.
Although The White Shadow was not a big ratings hit, it drew praise from critics and helped pave the way for later realistic dramas such as Hill Street Blues and My So-Called Life. It was the first series developed by executive producer Bruce Paltrow, who went on to create and produce the medical drama St. Elsewhere. The show also made popular TV stars of both Howard and Kevin Hooks, who portrayed high school basketball player Morris Thorpe. In the years since its cancellation, a number of journalists have praised the show and in some cases recalled being fans of the show as children or teens. In particular, sports columnist Bill Simmons has written about the show's strong influence on his life.

November 29, 1948
Children's show Kukla, Fran and Ollie premieres on prime time network TV. 

The show featured beloved puppets Kukla, Ollie (a dragon), and others, with live actress Fran Allison as host. The show began as a local Chicago program before debuting on NBC. It was one of the two most important series made in Chicago, along with Garroway at Large, during the city's brief period as an important production center for network programs in the late 1940s. After its network cancellation in 1957, PBS revived the series from 1969 to 1971.

November 30, 1918
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. is born. 
Best known for his starring roles in the television series 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I. He is also known as recurring character “Dandy Jim Buckley” in the seriesMaverick and as the voice behind the character Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series and its numerousspin-offs.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Your Shop Local Saturday "HOLIDAY SOR-BAY": Mr. Hoopers Egg Cream

Here is your Shop Local Saturday 
little spark of madness
that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Telly and Gordon want a "Mr. Hooper Egg Cream."

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, November 23, 2018

Your Black Friday HOLIDAY SOR-BAY: The Mary Tyler Moore Show - Not a Christmas Story

Here is your BLACK FRIDAY 

little spark of madness that we could use to momentarily forget about those things that leave a bad taste in our mouths.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show S05E09 Not a Christmas Story

Everyone is getting on each others nerves when they are trapped in the newsroom by a snowstorm.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Your Holiday Sor-Bay: Thanksgiving 2018

Here is a Thanksgiving "HOLIDAY SOR-BAY" tradition.
This is a little brain candy to snack on while dinner is cooking.

May we all be thankful for what we are about to view... 
Station manager Arthur Carlson comes up with a big idea for a unique holiday promotion involving live turkeys and a helicopter. First aired on 40 years ago on October 30th 1978 (Season 1, Episode 7) 
In 1997 TV Guide ranked this episode number 40 on its '100 Greatest Episodes of All Time' list. 

Happy Thanksgiving

Tony Figueroa

Monday, November 19, 2018

This Week in Television History: November 2018 PART III

The further we go back in Hollywood history,
the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
Donna Allen-Figueroa

November 19, 1933
Larry King is born Lawrence Leibel Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York City, New York.  

His parents were an Austrian immigrant Edward Jonaton Zeiger, a restaurant owner and defense plant worker, and his wife Jennie (Gitlitz), a garment worker, who emigrated from Belarus. Both parents were Orthodox Jews.
He began as a local Florida journalist and radio interviewer in the 1950s and 1960s and became prominent as an all-night national radio broadcaster starting in 1978. From 1985 to 2010, he hosted the nightly interview television program Larry King Live on CNN. He currently hosts Larry King Now on Hulu and RT America Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings. He also hosts "Politicking with Larry King", a weekly political talk show Thursday evenings on RT America. His work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and ten Cable ACE Awards.

November 19, 1978
Jonestown Airstrip Shootings
Congressman Ryan and NBC cameraman Bob Brown are killed by members of the Peoples Temple.

November 20, 1943
Veronica Hamel is born, in Philadelphia.  

She began a fashion modeling career after being discovered by Eileen Ford. In her first film role, she played a model in 1971's Klute, followed by roles in the disaster films Beyond the Poseidon Adventure and When Time Ran Out.
She was the model in the last cigarette commercial televised in the U.S. (for Virginia Slims, aired at 11:59 p.m. on New Year's Day 1971 on The Tonight Show). Hamel had been a model in print ads not just for Slims, but also for Pall Mall Gold cigarettes.
Hamel started appearing in TV series in 1975. She was considered for the role of Kelly Garrett on Charlie's Angels, but reportedly declined the role. Producer Aaron Spelling cast Jaclyn Smith instead.
Hamel is probably best remembered for playing Joyce Davenport, the hard-driving public defender and love interest of police captain Frank Furillo, on the long-running TV series Hill Street Blues from 1981 to 1987. She was a five-time Emmy nominee for that role.
Alan Alda's 1988 film A New Life cast Hamel in a leading role as his doctor and love interest. She was cast as Elizabeth, the wife of Charles Grodin's character in the movie Taking Care of Business in 1990. She was named on Us magazine's "Best Dressed" list for 1983. Hamel portrayed Lily Munster in the 1995 Halloween telefilm Here Come the Munsters in which Yvonne De Carlo had a cameo.
In 2002, she also appeared on Hill Street Blues creator Steven Bochco's legal drama Philly. In recent years, Hamel had a recurring role in the NBC television series Third Watch and appeared as Margo Shephard, Jack's mother, in the ABC series Lost.

November 21, 1993
Six days after his final assignment on Blossom, Bill Bixby died of complications in Century City, California. 

He was 59 years old. His wife, Judith Kliban, and his longtime friend, Dick Martin, were by his side. His ashes are at Kliban’s Maui estate.

November 22, 1968
Plato's Stepchildren is a third seasonepisode of the original science fictiontelevision series, Star Trek, first broadcast November 22, 1968. 

It is episode No. 65, production No. 67, written by Meyer Dolinsky, and directed by David Alexander. This episode is notable for depicting an inter-racial kiss between a white man (Kirk) and a black woman (Uhura), which was daring for 1960s US television.

November 22, 1983
Michael Conrad dies

Conrad died from urethral cancer in November 1983 during the fourth season of Hill Street Blues. The show's writers wrote his death into the show.

November 24, 1978
David Letterman makes his first guest appearance on The Tonight Show. 
Letterman became a favorite on the show, serving as guest host more than 50 times. 

By 1982, Letterman had his own late-night comedy talk show, Late Night with David Letterman, which ran until 1993. When NBC chose Jay Leno instead of Letterman to become the replacement when host Johnny Carson retired, Letterman changed networks and launched Late Show on rival network CBS.

November 24, 1983
Sesame Street Episode 1839, now known to children and fans as "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" airs. 

When actor Will Lee died in 1982, it left the producers of Sesame Street with the question of how to deal with the loss of Mr. Hooper, a beloved character who had been on the show since the first episode. Dulcy Singer, executive producer at the time, said that "if we left it unsaid, kids would notice." One way out was to avoid the issue of death entirely. Producers toyed with the idea of telling viewers that the character had gone away. Caroll Spinney said that "we didn't know what to do. [We] thought perhaps he could just retire, move to Florida or something, but then the producers thought that the best thing to do would be to actually deal with death." After much discussion and research, the producers decided to have the character of Mr. Hooper pass away as well, and use the episode to teach its young viewers about death as a natural part of life and that it is okay to grieve and feel sad when a loved one passes away.
After consulting with numerous child psychologists, Norman Stiles, the head writer for the show, prepared a script designed to deal with the issue of death on Sesame Street. The cause of death was not discussed on the show, nor is the process of growing old. Valeria Lovelace, director of research at the show's production company, the Children's Television Workshop, said "We were advised to take the direct approach... Children don't understand words like 'passing away.'" The show took an honest and direct approach. Show producer Fran Kaufman said that the goal was to avoid "sugar-frosting" the message.
That message, according to the producers, was "[Mr. Hooper] died, he won't be coming back, and we are all going to miss him...Another message of the segment was that children have to understand that they will continue to be cared for."
In the episode, Big Bird thinks that Mr. Hooper will return later, but is told about the irreversibility of death. Although being reminded of already being told Mr. Hooper died, Big Bird, like many kids, shows his initial inability to comprehend this concept. But Big Bird's concern soon switches to his own needs. "He's gotta come back," Big Bird exclaimed, "Who's going to take care of the store? Who's gonna make me birdseed milkshakes and tell me stories?" The other adults reassure him that everything will be okay and he will be taken care of. Big Bird gets frustrated by these comments exclaiming "but it won't be the same". Bob addresses Big Bird's concern head-on saying "You're right, Big Bird. It'll never be the same without him. But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had a chance to be with him and to know him and to love him a lot, when he was here."
The farewell episode aired November 24, 1983 (Thanksgiving Day). Loretta Long noted, in an interview on The Tavis Smiley Show, "We were very careful to do it over the Thanksgiving holiday, where there would be a lot of adults in the house to help the children."
The filming of the scene was very emotional for the cast and crew, whom had worked closely with Will Lee for 14 years. Genuine tears were present in almost all on set. "We barely got through that show," said Bob McGrath in a 2006 interview. "Any emotions you saw were real. We tried to do a pickup and we got about a minute into it and we all fell apart emotionally. It crossed over not only from PBS, but all of the networks. They all felt it was such an important show that they took the time to highlight it."
Mr. Hooper's death received a lot of press and drew many viewers. Reports stated that the episode was used to stimulate discussion of death in many homes. Valeria Lovelace commented, "It was a relief to us all that the segment worked as we hoped it would. It was really scary beforehand; we didn't know for sure how it was going to turn out." The episode was soon selected by the Daytime Emmys as being one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television.
Aside from receiving critical acclaim, the episode garnered success with its target viewers. Loretta Long explained, "People come up to us and say, 'Thank you. Now we can explain what happened to grandma, what happened to grandpa.'"
The episode was later adapted into the book, "I'll Miss You, Mr. Hooper" by episode writer Norman Stiles. The full, uncut version of this episode is available for viewing as part of the collection at The Museum of Television and Radio. The scene with the adults explaining Mr. Hooper's death was released on the DVD Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days, while Sesame Street Unpaved included a script for the scene, and portions of this scene have appeared in Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting, Sesame Street's All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Streets Forever, Sesame Street Unpaved, A&E Biography: Sesame Street, and The Street We Live On.

“The best episode we ever did was Mr. Hooper's death. Those were real tears. Will was the sweetest man”. -- Caroll Spinney

November 25, 1998
Flip Wilson died of liver cancer in Malibu, California, aged 64

The Hollywood Christmas Parade (formerly the Hollywood Santa Parade or Santa Claus Lane Parade) is an annual parade that takes place on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in the Hollywood community in Los Angeles, CaliforniaUnited States. 

Beginning in 1928, Hollywood merchants transformed a one-mile stretch of Hollywood Boulevard into "Santa Claus Lane" to boost shopping. Part of the promotion was a daily parade featuring Santa Claus and a film star. Originally called the Santa Claus Lane Parade, the inaugural event featured only Santa Claus and the actress Jeanette Loff. The parade follows a 3.5-mile route along Hollywood Boulevard, then back along Sunset Boulevard and features various celebrities among its participants.
The Parade was suspended from 1942 to 1944 due to World War II, but reopened in 1945 with record attendance.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, November 16, 2018

Your Mental Sorbet: Roy Clark on The Odd Couple

Here is another "Mental Sorbet
that we could use to momentarily forget about those
things that leave a bad taste in our mouths

Clark died on yesterday, at 85 at his Tulsa home due to complications of pneumonia.
I always thought this episode of the "The Odd Couple" beautifully showcases his talent.

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa